|SA-Dakar: Aprilia´s Francisco "Chaleco" Lopez - "The Dakar is not over now".|
The day started very early this morning. A long road connection to cross the border from Chile to Argentina through Paso de San Francisco at 4800 m above the sea level and less than 0 degree Celsius before the 176 km special stage, a loop in the white dunes of Fiambalá under a the temperature around 40 degrees! It was definitively, the longest and hardest day of the Dakar 2011, and opened the gap among the overall ranking.
Francisco López started well this morning, reducing the time distance in the first part of the special. Then, a problem with the fuel pump stopped him, and his water carrier Gerard Farres came in to help. “Chaleco” finishes 5th, but the distance from Coma in the overall classification is almost twice as much as yesterday. López is still third overall, 45’ from Coma and 27’ from Despres.
"I´m mad. Today I had the opportunity to take the second place overall because Cyril Despres didn´t take the right choice in navigation" Lopez told. "The problem with the fuel pump took everything away. Well, the Dakar is not over, tomorrow there will be another special stage of 600 km."
The positive performances of Alain Duclos keep showing off. Today, he was 9th in the stage and steps up one place in the overall ranking. "Conditions were very difficult today" Duclos told.
"The cold temperature up in the Andes and then 40 degrees in the special… I was prepared, but it was a very long and exhausting day. We lost about 15 minutes looking for the last way point. I´m glad with my position in the stage, I wanted to be among the top 10 and I´m making it. Of course it will be better without the issues of the first week, but here I am."
Gerard Farres, 4th yesterday, stopped to help López and finishes the stage 20th, while Alex Zanotti crossed the line 37th.
Thursday the Dakar will sleep in San Juan after another long stage of 786 km total. As the race was announced to be in a "crescendo" way, riders must complete a 622 km special stage. Landscapes will change, but the tracks will not give a break to the competitors still in the race.
2011/01/13 | 13:59 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY